By Joe Guzzardi
November 19, 2014
With Capitol Hill focused President Obama’s executive immigration order scheduled for this week, few have noticed that the White House has already fired the first salvo. Earlier this month, Vice President Joe Biden announced that the U.S. would grant refugee status to some Honduran, Salvadoran and Guatemalan children and young adults under age 21 who have parents legally residing in the United States. Biden was attending an Inter-American Development Bank conference where the presidents of the three countries discussed stemming future illegal immigration from Central America.
Instead of blocking more unlawful entry, Biden announced a scheme that’s guaranteed to increase it. Under the terms of the new agreement, parents legally living in the U.S. can petition immigration officials for refugee status for their children. Once approved, the children would receive immediate work authorization, social security cards, government-issued IDs, and welfare benefits. After five years, refugees can file for naturalization. The new policy, set to begin in December, represents an expansion of an existing program that allows 4,000 Cuban and Colombian nationals to submit refugee status applications.
When the border surge began last summer, Obama and Biden promised that most migrants would be returned home. That never happened. They were reunited with their illegal alien families, often escorted by U.S. immigration officials to temporary Health and Human Services housing. Many are now enrolled in schools as they await their immigration court dates to which, historically, 90 percent don’t appear at.
Not surprisingly, the administration’s program is nonsense, fraught with loopholes that will facilitate more immigration. First, assuming a parent is either a U.S. citizen or permanent legal resident, he can already petition for his child under existing immigration law. No new policy is necessary.
Second, no protections are provided to assure that the child is actually who he says he is. Since DNA testing isn’t required, fraud similar to that perpetrated by Somalis in 2008 is likely. The State Department subsequently shut down the Somali reunification because of rampant misrepresentation.
Third, any child who doesn’t initially qualify will be reevaluated to see if he can be admitted conditionally under non-permanent status that will also grant work permission. That provision will open the floodgates. One way or another, reminiscent of this summer, the Central American youths will soon be on their way north.
House Judiciary Chair Bob Goodlatte described the White House’s folly as a “Pandora’s box” that would promote another “government-sanctioned border surge,” and is “bad policy that undermines the integrity of our immigration system.”
Goodlatte overlooked that dismantling U.S. immigration laws has been Obama’s long-standing goal. Few non-criminal aliens are deported; some have been granted deferred action while others have received prosecutorial discretion. Expanding refugee programs during a period of economic uncertainty—more than 8 million Americans can’t find a full time job and social services are stained beyond their capacity to provide—is counterproductive. The U.S. admits more refugees annually than the combined total of all other industrialized nations. On average, each refugee petitions four others to join him, a process known as chain migration.
Real reform should include, among other things, securing the border, vigorous internal enforcement, ending birthright citizenship and a top-to-bottom review of existing immigration programs like the 1980 Refugee Resettlement Act that’s been on autopilot for 34 years.
Instead, Americans face the constant risk of more immigration even though they’ve repeatedly expressed their desire for less. A Gallup poll released in June found that twice as many Americans want less immigration than those who want more. Pursuant to his oath of office, Obama must enforce all the laws, not just the ones he agrees with.
Joe Guzzardi is a Californians for Population Stabilization Senior Writing Fellow whose columns have been nationally syndicated since 1987. Contact him at [email protected]